King Solomon had everything. He had unlimited access to pleasure as one who owned countless vineyards and concubines. He had wisdom and knowledge. He built houses, farms, gardens and parks for himself with slaves and families of slaves to take care of them. He had great wealth accumulated in silver and gold. In verse 9 he says that he became great and surpassed all who was before him in Jerusalem. Whatever his eyes desired, he grabbed hold of it (v. 19). Some of those above items were sinful and some could be used as a good, Godly stewardship. Nonetheless, he was perceived as one who had it all and he admits this in verses 1-9.
And yet he felt empty.
In fact, he says that it was all vanity or meaningless. He compares it to trying to catch wind. When he considered all of that pleasure, all of that hard work, it really meant nothing in the end. In many ways this chapter is the entire book of Ecclesiastes summed up. Solomon was known as the wisest man to live and he says he will die like the fool. Wisdom is a good thing but wisdom in itself doesn’t last forever. The smartest of people will die and even if their knowledge is passed down, unless it’s a Gospel truth that will make eternal dividends in one’s life here and the one to come, it’s vanity. Even hard work and the fruit from such toil.
Work is a good thing and it’s a gift from God before the fall. But when Solomon thought about his hard work concerning what he physically built and realized how it’s just going to be passed down to another’s hands and will eventually crumble or decay he asked, “what’s the point?” Much of this book will be asking these same questions until the very end. We know, like Solomon will soon conclude, that there is a type of wisdom and work that can last forever and does have meaning. But if we’re not using our minds or working toward that end, we will come to that same conclusion that Solomon does here.
- What are you learning and working for that may not matter in the end or will last eternally?
By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor